Saturday, March 04, 2006

White Space

Dymphna’s post yesterday about my Bloody Borders Project took a large-scale, sweeping view of timeline maps of Islamic terrorist incidents. But the maps involved reward detailed examination as well.

For example, look at this section of the Old World, cut out of the world terrorism map:
Old World terrorism

Do you notice anything missing?

I see notable instances of clean, white, empty space in China, Burma, and Ethiopia, and near-white space in Iran.

The sweep of Islamist violence depicted in the maps seems to flow up against the borders of these countries and then stop. Are there no Muslims in the countries involved? According to, Iran is 99% Muslim, Ethiopia is 47.5% Muslim, and Burma has 1,716,378 of them. China is harder to figure; it is only 3% Muslim, but that means it has more than 39 million of them, mostly Uighurs living in Xinjiang province, in the far west of the country.

Ethiopia is a mystery to me — I know of no reason why it would be exempt from the Islamist violence that has plagued neighboring Eritrea, Somalia, and Sudan.

Burma, aka Myanmar, is a military dictatorship which exerts strict control over all information flowing out of the country. There is undoubtedly Islamic violence in Burma — rumors to that effect occasionally emerge via refugees — but I can find no hard statistics. Undoubtedly, if all the facts were available, the sweep of blue and teal violence on the map would be continuous from Bangladesh across Burma and Thailand, jumping the straits to Malaysia and Indonesia.

The Uighurs in China are immediately adjacent to Pakistan and Kashmir, regions which are among the most intensely colored on the map. Either the Chinese are very good at keeping a lid on their restive Muslim population, or, like Burma, they are simply preventing the news of the incidents from leaving the country.

Iran, of course, is an Islamist theocracy. In a sense, every woman stoned for adultery and every student executed for blasphemy is a victim of Islamic terror. But that’s not the way the statistics are collected, so Iran is mostly white space.

Imagine what would happen, however, if the mullahs were overthrown. Expect it to be like Iraq since the fall of Saddam — rival groups of Muslims using the car bomb and the suicide killer to attempt to impose their political will on each other, while a secular government tries desperately to establish a non-despotic authority. Wait and see the map after that happens!

2002 vs. 2005And this brings us to the map of Iraq. Look at the comparison of 2002 and 2005 in the maps on the right. In 2002, Saddam still had a monopoly on violence in his country, and the map of Iraq is free of color. All of the people maimed and shredded and poisoned and shot by Saddam’s thugs aren’t listed as victims of Islam, but simply as Saddam’s victims.

Then look at 2005. The liberation of Iraq let loose the pent-up forces, and the diverse armies of the Prophet were free to have a go at each other, aided, abetted, funded, and led by opportunistic Islamist groups from outside the country.

And one final comparison to make using these two maps: Israel in 2002 vs. Israel in 2005. The latter year still saw plenty of action by Palestinian shahids — the map of Israel is still completely colored in — but the severity of incidents is significantly less. Why do you think that might be?

Something there is about a Palestinian terrorist that doesn’t love a wall.


xavier said...

Ethopia faces a more insidious form of attack: dawa. Over at Robert Spencer's site on jihadwatch, there was an article that the Moslem misionary were particularly agressive trying to seduce the Ethipians about all the wonderful benefits of Islam. There's also a geopolitical aspect whereby Egypt had prohibited Ethopia from diverting some of the Nile so Ethipoia can lessen the effects of a drought.
Ethopia is alone and quite poor so you can imagine that it's a coveted target much like Rwanda.

gumshoe said...

Baron -

t'would be appreciated
if you might be able to
link the small 2002/2005
thumbnails to a larger
side-by-side graphic.

your comment about Israel
goes by the boards with the current graphic.


Fellow Peacekeeper said...

Iran is an exporter :).
Other notable white blots include Turkey (crypto Islamist government combined with fiercly secular security forces), but thats one to watch.

Then Libya, Turkmenistan, Kazahstan, Uzbekistan, Kirghizstan - all of which just happen to be somewhere from undemocratic to outright military dictatorships.

Also, there is some mixing of ethnic/national - based conflicts with religious motivated. Example : I believe the Chechen trouble would continue regardless if they were pagans, Buddhists or Christians. Chechenya started as a entirely nationality dispute, but the Islamic element has grown and grown. The worse things have become for the Chechens the more they have turned towards Islam, and the less backing they receive from elsewhere the more they have turned to Islamic support. Furthermore, now that the war has dragged on more than a decade, the education of the children has been hoplelssly disrupted, would not the new uneducated war generation feel a natural affiliation for a violent faith that places no value on education or tehnical skills? A vicious circle.

The Bosnian war saw similar development, with the originally not particularly muslim Bosniacs turning steadily more and more religious. The Uighurs in China are AFAIK more national/cultural than religious motivated but if it drags on we can expect Islam to grow.

I suggest that not only does Islam encourage violence and war, but that violence and war fosters Islam. Its a cancer meme.

Fellow Peacekeeper said...


True - the great Caucasus resistance leader (tho' Avar not Chechen) of the 19th century was the Imam Shamil (Shamil Basayev's namesake). And then as now the Islam has grown along with the cycle of violence, repression un unenlightenment. On the other hand Dudajev, who started this cycle of resistance was very much a modernising nationalist who took the Baltic countries (particularly Estonia) as a model for what Chechenya could become. Islamization is an indication how far that little conflict has taken the North Caucasus area off the rails.

Like the Albanians or Pashtun, Chechen Islam is ofttimes subordinate to their indigenous code of honor. The grievous thing is that the war has allowed alien radical Islam (Wahhabism) to influence the Chechens - aid going together with indoctrination. Guess three times where that money and influence comes from, and who also just happens to benefit from disrupting the Russian oil industry ...